Out With Wrigley Field and In With Orchestra Hall: Changing Venues With the Changing of the Seasons

Exchanging Wrigley Field and baseball with Orchestra Hall, the CSO and Lyric Opera–a sure sign that winter is coming.

Tonight’s program was a great way to kick off my classical music season. Joshua Bell performed Bruch’s Violin Concerto No. 1; about as close as I’ll ever come to really liking a piece centered around solo violin. The highlight of the concert for me was the second piece of the night, Saint-Saens Symphony No. 3 (Organ). Wow, is this ever a jolt of energy and a real crowd pleaser. It’s got everything: a full orchestra, crashing cymbals, four hands at the piano, rousing brass, and of course the full-on pipe organ that you feel as well as hear. (That’s organist Henry McDowell in the photo warming up before the concert.)

You’ve probably heard the Organ Symphony even if you’re not familiar with it by name; portions of his have been used in TV and movies. It’s lush and jolting and full of repeating layers. Very cinematic, which I love. To hear it live was a truly thrilling way to kick off my season.

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2 Responses

  1. Ooh, I am jealous about the Saint-Saens. I don’t think I have ever heard it in a concert hall. I know I heard the NSO do it at the National Cathedral–which was pretty amazing. And I heard it back in 1987 when they played the “Voice of Minneapolis” for the last time at the old, now torn down, convention center auditorium. It would be interesting to hear it in the more balanced space of a concert hall. Our organ at the Kennedy Center is a little on the wimpy side. I think Philly might be doing it this season and they have a great organ and isn’t too far from DC.
    Last season I went to hear Mahler 8 in NY at Lincoln Center and their electronic organ sounded ridiculously bad.
    Incidentally, although I had heard the Chicago Symphony in 1989 at the Proms in London, I had never heard them in their home until this past year. Quite enjoyed it. Lucky you to live in the same town. I miss my hometown orchesta (Minnesota Orchestra) and Orchestra Hall in Minneapolis. Both are considerably better than the NSO and the Kennedy Center.

  2. Hello Thomas and thanks for your comment. Regarding the CSO organ-it’s definitely not on the wimpy side. The sound quality was such that you could nearly feel it as well as hear it.
    I forgot to mention in my post, that because I’d taken the CSO tour last year, I knew that the sound wasn’t coming from the original pipes, the ones you see in the back wall just above the orchestra (in my photo they’re too dark to see–they’re actually in the spaces that look like big screen TVs.) Instead, the organ sound is coming from bigger and better pipes that are concealed overhead, closer to the ceiling. Wow, what a sound.

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